Dirty Old Man: A Love Story
By Jaina the Blue Moose
(lhanson@bgnet.bgsu.edu)

Heylas! Look, I started a second fic, imagine that. This is the first Sailor Moon
work-in-progress I've posted, so bear with me. This story takes place immediately
post-battle with Beryl, with one major difference: no one has lost their memories.
(No, I'm not just making things up to suit myself. If the crystal can resurrect
them *without* their memories, it can darn well do the same thing *with* memories.)
One day I started wondering how Andrew (yes, I'm using NA names. Because I like them.
If you take exception to this, e-mail me.) would react to Darien and Serena suddenly
becoming a couple, and this was the result.

Thanks times infinity to LeanneB, my faithful and wonderful betareader who fixed
everything here even when she barely knows Sailor Moon; to Aimee and Val for their
special brand of anarchy and their frantic brainstorming about you-know-what; and to
Angela for doing some quick revision-beta and soothing my fragile, insecure writer's ego. ;)

As always, I adore feedback in any way, shape or form. (Did I mention I'm at
lhanson@bgnet.bgsu.edu ?) Criticism is fun, too. Flames are amusing, but be sure to use
poor grammar and bad logic so I can laugh at you. If anyone other than smrff wants to
archive, please just e-mail me for permission first. Anywhere I'm previously archived is fine.

Summary: Post-Beryl, some things remain the same, others have changed greatly, and some are
just whacked-out. What's going on here?

I own a bunch of CDs, books, and video games and absolutely NO anime characters. Sailor Moon
is a character, not any of those things. Therefore, I do not own Sailor Moon.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Darien stepped out from the doorway and watched an alien world pass before him. Ha.
`Alien' indeed. In point of fact, Darien's little corner of Tokyo bore no difference
now from when he'd last stepped through the front door to his apartment building. The
same stores were open for business, the same families rushed to work or to school, and
the same bums occupied the alleys. Visually, the city was the same as it had ever been...
and yet so different. Even as its sameness was being impressed upon Darien's mind, the
city seemed bizarre in its normalcy, for Darien knew that the change was not in the
Tokyo's buildings or inhabitants, but in Darien himself.

Incredible. It was the only word Darien could think of that accurately described the
situation, and even that wasn't entirely true. How could he find a word to describe his
worldview after what he'd just been through? Along that line, how was he going to explain
to Andrew where he'd been and what he'd been doing for the past month? As his best friend
and designated next-of-kin, the other student had been notified after Darien stopped
showing up for classes and didn't pay his rent. After a near-death revival and group
teleport courtesy of the Silver Imperium Crystal, Darien had returned to a dusty apartment
and a string of frantic messages on his answering machine. Today he had to face his friend
and explain that despite his abrupt disappearance weeks before, he was fine, everything was
fine, and things would go back to normal.

Riiiiiight.

`I can just imagine how this will go,' Darien thought cynically as he headed towards the
arcade. He pulled at his collar with irritation; for once, his beloved jacket and
turtleneck just didn't seem to fit. It wasn't a size issue. Despite the near-complete
brainwash Beryl and her cronies had forced on him, the ebony armor he'd worn while in the
Negaverse had just seemed...right, so much more than the casual clothes he now sported.
`Don't worry, Andrew old buddy. I'm fine now. By the way, did I mention that I'm Tuxedo
Mask? That's why Queen Beryl of the Negaverse kidnapped me and used magic to subvert me
to her side. I'm also Prince Endymion of Earth, and I'm in love with the Moon Princess,
who just happened to be reincarnated along with the rest of her court and me. Oh, and
she's Serena.' Sure. After he finished that story, Darien could count on giving himself
a nice long hug in a new white shirt. If he'd really wanted to, Darien supposed he could
write off the whole experience as some massive hallucination, including the previous few
months he'd spent running around in a tuxedo and cape. He could chalk the notion up to an
extremely long, extremely detailed drug trip if not for the fact that he didn't do drugs
and that, Darien strongly suspected, he could still produce a rose-shaped missile from thin
air if he really wanted to.

And then there was Serena. Now that he was back in control of his own soul, Darien couldn't
deny his feelings for the meatball-headed superhero; truth be told, he didn't want to. It
was more than destiny, if anything could be. In his last coherent moments before the searing
pain of Zoisite's blade overwhelmed him, Darien recalled feeling something inside him stir
as Serena's dual identity was revealed. `Yes,' it cried out. `This is what you need. This
is what you want.' After that, as the rainbow crystals merged, Darien felt the past rise like
a song within him, saw Serena transform into the princess of his dreams...and embraced his
destiny.

Yep. Just an average day in the life of Darien Chiba.

Darien sighed as he rounded the corner to reach Andrew's family's arcade. Whatever was
going to happen between Serena and him, and nothing else had yet aside from a few longing
glances on both their parts, it would have to wait until he was through lying to his best
friend.

"DARIEN!" As soon as he entered the arcade, Darien was attacked by a petite waitress who
moved like lightning and hit him with the force of a cannonball. "Darien, we were so
worried," sobbed Lizzie, arms clenched around him like a vise. "Where were you? I thought
you might be dead! Andrew said he was sure you'd be okay but he kept calling and calling
and you never turned up and I thought we'd never see you again..."

"Lizzie, it's okay, honestly." Darien moved his arms around her shoulders in what he hoped
was a reassuring motion. "I'm right here, and I can assure you that I'm definitely not
dead." Her sobs subsided somewhat until she was just sniffling. "Um...do you need a tissue?"

"No," she sniffed, releasing his aching ribs and wiping her eyes. "I've got to get to school.
Great, I'm sure I look terrible now...but I'm so glad you're okay!" She beamed up at him once
before dashing out, leaving Darien somewhat shell-shocked.

"DARIEN!" Darien braced himself when he heard the second shout, but thankfully Andrew had
the good sense to stop before he knocked his friend over. "God, Darien, where have you
been?" Andrew cried, goofy grin and furious countenance fighting for dominance of his face.

"Ah...right. Um..." Darien struggled mentally to find an answer that would both satisfy Andrew
and discourage pointed questions. `Appendicitis. Sick friend. Car broke down in another
country. Alien abduction.' "I was mugged." Well, crap.

"Mugged," Andrew repeated the word evenly, then blinked. "A month ago?"

"They attacked me," Darien invented hastily. "I guess my paltry wallet wasn't quite what
they wanted, so they decided to beat the hell out of me. I remember a couple of burly guys,
but not much else. When I went down, I cracked my head on the pavement and didn't come to
until about a week ago."

"Jesus!" Andrew gasped. "And you're already back home? Where did this happen, anyway? I
called every hospital in Tokyo."

"Uh...Okinawa. I was visiting a museum I'd read about," Darien invented frantically.
"Honestly, it's not as bad as it sounds. The hospital I was in is developing some new
treatment for head injuries and they purposely kept me under so they could use it to heal
me faster. They couldn't call anyone about me because my wallet was gone, and I was so
dazed when I woke up that I didn't even think about it until I got home. I'm sorry, buddy."

"That's...all right," Andrew shook his head, still somewhat confounded by all that had
happened to Darien. If he only knew. "Right. Um. Well, I'm happy that you're all right,
Darien. You had us really worried. Hey, do you want to hang around here today, get caught
up on things? I don't have any classes today."

"Thanks, but no. I've got to get going, I have some unfinished business to take care of,"
Darien said. "See you later?"

Andrew nodded. "Definitely! Come by when you get the chance."

Darien headed back out into the welcoming sunshine and wondered where to go next. Class was
out of the question. The Negaverse certainly hadn't given a thought to his convenience when
they abducted him. After a month of missed classes, being hopelessly behind was the best
Darien could wish for. Summer term was a distinct possibility. There was only one thing
on Darien's mind at the moment, and it absolutely Would Not Wait. Of course, first he had
to *find* Serena, and she was probably on her way to school by now.

"Darien?"

He turned and there she was, a vision of gold hair and pale skin in a school uniform. So
unlike her heroic alter ego, Serena smiled up at him a bit bashfully. There was no sparkle
here, nothing that suggested the royalty or immense power that were very much a part of her.
She was simply Serena...and Darien couldn't wish for anything else. "I thought I saw you,"
she continued. "Um..how are you?"

"Uh...good." Much better than the night before, when he and the rest of the Scouts, after
being pulled together from whatever near-death realm they'd been in, had been unceremoniously
dumped in the middle of Juuban park by the Crystal. At least, Darien assumed it was the
Crystal; Sailor Moon herself looked wrecked and was half passed out when they'd arrived home.
Even then he'd wanted nothing more than to take her in his arms and carry her away so they
could talk. To his chagrin, Luna and Artemis, having somehow sensed their return and gone
to the park to greet them, had been firm in their insistence that everyone go straight to
their homes and a healing sleep. He had stumbled home without thinking just in time to
collapse on his bed and wonder if everything had been a dream.

"...I said I think we should talk," Serena said, and Darien realized that he'd been staring.
"About what's been happening, I mean. You've been through so much, and I wasn't sure how
much you'd remember...how much do you remember?" she asked with an expression that fairly
screamed `Please, please remember me!'

"You're right, we should." Darien pondered how to phrase his next statement, then just bit
the bullet. "Serena, nothing's changed."

Serena winced, and Darien's heart shifted a gear or ten as he wondered what he'd said wrong.
Dare he even think it...could she have changed her mind about him?

"I see," Serena said carefully, "I guess I should go, then. There's a Scout meeting at the
Temple this afternoon, if you want to come." She turned to leave as Darien's mind started
screaming `No! Idiot! She thinks you mean that *you* haven't changed, that all you see
her as is a meatball-headed child! Stop her!'

"Serena, wait!" Darien burst out, and grabbed her hand before she could get far. Her eyes
were wide as the full moon when she turned, and half of Darien's mind, possibly the half
that kept screaming instructions at him, wondered how such a powerful fighter could have
such soft skin. The other half fumbled for something to say that would actually mean
something. "I didn't mean that, Serena. I meant-I do remember my time as Beryl's
disciple; I remember everything. What I said isn't true, *everything's* changed. I
just meant..." He struggled to find the words; reaching out to someone was something he
hadn't done in a long time, and like an unused muscle, his ability to do so seemed to have
grown weaker with time. "Serena," he said, placing a hand under her chin and tilting it
up to face him, "I just wanted to tell you that what hasn't changed is how I feel about you."

"How do you feel about me?" Serena whispered.

For a moment, Darien wondered how to answer her. Truly, what could he say? "I've never felt
about anyone the way I feel about you"? "I've never told anyone `I love you' and I want to
say it now but I don't know how"? Looking at her wide, hopeful eyes, Darien had a sudden
flash the last time she'd looked at him like this-shortly before he'd planned to behead her.
He shuddered. Was there a word to describe what he'd felt as his memories had washed over
him, a word to explain how thoroughly he'd hated himself for even trying to harm her? For
all his education, Darien couldn't find the right thing to say, so he did the next best thing.

He kissed her.

It was a soft kiss at first, a simple pressing of one pair of lips to another, but Darien
quickly felt himself falling into another world. Tokyo disappeared; suddenly all of his
thoughts and emotions were centered on this kiss with Serena. He felt her jump a tiny bit
as he made contact, but somehow he knew that to stop kissing her would be a Very Bad Thing,
so he wrapped his arms around her waist and after a few moment felt the intensity of the
kiss double as she began to kiss him back. Again and again their lips met, and somehow he
had pulled her even closer to his body; her arms were around his neck and he could feel her
pulse racing along with his own.

Suddenly, Darien felt an uncontestable urge to know what Serena tasted like. He opened his
mouth slightly and ran his tongue along her smooth lips until she gasped slightly, enough
to allow him entrance. He was careful to be gentle; from her reaction, Serena hadn't kissed
anyone like this before, at least not in this lifetime. His worldview narrowed even further
as he entered the sweet warmth of her mouth. Hesitantly, Serena took the lead, and touched
his tongue with the tip of her own. The electricity between them seemed to almost crackle
audibly. Tender and inviting, Darien finally knew what Serena tasted of; mint toothpaste,
probably the most common brand in Japan, but here and now it was special, a subtle hint
of flavor on her tongue that he would thereafter always associate with Serena.

Of course, all this ran through Darien's mind in seconds; then he was adrift, lost in
the sensation of kissing Serena. Tongues caressed tenderly and dueled fiercely in
alternation. He had long since closed his eyes to further focus his mind. Serena's
arms were locked around his neck, pulling him closer down to her level, which Darien
didn't mind at all. He ran his hands up and down her back, rubbed her back in small
circles with his palms. She shivered, and it felt so good that he tried it again.

The kiss(es?) seemed to end by mutual consent. Slowly, the deep, hungry kisses lessened
to softer and shorter ones, repeated over and over until their lips finally parted and
the couple just held one another close, both breathing heavily. Darien kept his eyes
closed for a few minutes more, not wanting to let the experience end. He pulled Serena's
trembling body close once more and simply treasured the feel of her in his arms. For so
long, he'd thought he'd never have this, and here she was. His princess, his love, was
beside him at last.

He prayed that he'd never have to let her go.

When he finally opened his eyes, Serena was smiling up at him. "Hi," he said quietly.

"Hi," she replied, then "Wow."

"You can say that again," Darien grinned, and she giggled. He could stay like this forever,
he mused inwardly. Who cared if they were in the middle of the city? People could walk
around them.

"Oh, NO!" Serena yelped suddenly, breaking his train of thought.

"What? What is it?" Darien released her from his embrace and looked around frantically,
tensed to pull out a rose and transform into Tuxedo Mask as soon as he saw whatever
enemy had made her shriek like that.

"I'm going to be so late!" Serena wailed. "How am I going to explain this to Miss Haruna?
Making out doesn't exactly fall under acceptable excu-"

Darien silenced her with a quick kiss. "Silly," he smiled, "My car's not too far away.
If we run, I can get you to school on time."

"Oh, thank you!" Serena threw herself into his arms one more time and initiated a kiss for
the first time. "Darien," she started, suddenly shy, "I-"

"I know." He squeezed her hand. "Me, too. Now let's run!"

Both Darien and Serena had been so wrapped up in each other that they'd completely failed
to notice the face staring out from the Arcade's window. As they dashed off, Andrew
struggled to lift his jaw from the floor. He moved his mouth to form words, but "GAK!"
was all he could choke out. He rubbed his eyes, trying to remove the afterimage of what
he'd just seen. Serena and *Darien*, locked in a clinch and making out like their lives
depended on it. The very idea of it was so impossibly bizarre that all coherent thoughts
except one flew from his mind.

Just how hard had Darien hit his head?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*cackle cackle*

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